As anyone with experience practicing yoga can attest, the discipline does a lot to calm stress and anxiety, boost mood levels, reduce the symptoms of mild or seasonal depression, and possibly even aid the treatment of PTSD. However, you don’t have to take our word for it: a Harvard mental health study, published in 2009, supports all of these positive effects and more, highlighting the benefits of yoga for those suffering from anxiety and depression, the latter of which can be a major source of mood swings.
Stress and Anxiety
Few things can put someone on edge the way that an overload of stress can. This can in turn lead to moodiness and outbursts that can harm personal, professional and familial relationships, causing further deterioration of a person’s mental health, even among those who have never been diagnosed with anxiety or stress-related disorders. Yoga can help through preventing this overload of stress and working to calm anxiety. In fact, yoga can even increase tolerance to stressful events by moderating uncomfortable physiological responses like raised blood-pressure and heart-rate.
Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
While professional help for treating depression is recommended, using yoga to supplement therapy or medication can be just what the doctor ordered in terms of improving quality of life and managing mood and energy levels. In a 2005 study conducted in Germany, self-reported levels of depression improved by 50% following a three-month yoga program. Anxiety levels improved as well. For those who want quick improvements, even a single class has been shown to offer benefits. Yoga can also help chase away the winter blues by keeping the body balanced and in tune with natural cycles while also boosting energy levels.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A relatively new idea, but one that may offer hope for those suffering from PTSD, is that yoga can help stabilize a poorly tuned, always-on-alert nervous system. Walter Reed Army Medical Center is currently using yoga to help treat returning veterans for the condition. While early results look promising, only time will tell how effective yoga is in treating PTSD, which can include symptoms of moodiness, irritability, anxiety and depression that all take their toll on those suffering from the disorder.
Overall, yoga has substantial benefits for those who experience mood swings and other symptoms of psychological distress. Even in the short-term, it can give sufferers a side-effect free way to manage moods and regain control over their emotional lives.
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